If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to work at your job, you may be able to get approved for Social Security benefits. The program run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows those who've worked enough to leave work and tend to their disability. Getting benefits is not easy, but when you are made miserable at work because of a qualified medical condition it's well worth the effort involved. If you are nearing your retirement years you may be wondering if you will be able to earn two benefits at the same time. Read on to learn more.

A work-related benefit

Not to be confusing, but there are two different types of disability benefit programs offered by the SSA, and only one will pertain to working and retirement. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is meant to cover disabled people who have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and that have very few assets and low income. This article refers to SSDI, meant to cover those who've worked and earned enough work credits.

Can you get both SSDI and retirement benefits at the same time?

To answer this question it might be helpful to think about SSDI coverage as early retirement benefits. When you can no longer work at your job and must stop work due to a medical condition, you are, in effect, undergoing an early retirement. The SSDI benefits you get are actually coming from the same "bucket" as your retirement benefits will come, but you will be getting them earlier because of your disability.

Once you reach your retirement age your benefits will continue but they will then be referred to as retirement benefits instead of disability benefits. The rules that govern retirement benefits are different from disability benefits and you may have more freedom to earn money and do work that was previously not allowed under the SSDI system. Earning both SSDI and retirement benefits at the same time, however, is considered "double-dipping" and is not possible.

What to know about taking an early retirement and SSDI

People who are nearing their early retirement date and who are also disabled sometimes opt to apply for disability. There is the potential for your SSDI payment to be higher than your early retirement benefit amount since early retirement can bring with it a reduced monthly amount. The problem is that once you've already been earning your early retirement benefit there is no going back. If you fail to get SSDI to cover you until your full retirement date, you will be forced to accept the permanently reduced retirement benefit for the rest of your life. Be sure to consider carefully before you opt for an early retirement and only apply for SSDI if you have a severe disability.

If you've been denied your benefits, speak to Social Security attorney at once.